Wednesday, 19 July 2017

CILIP Conference 2017: 'Syrian New Scots, Libraries and Plenty of Tea' - Highlights by Lucy Sinclair

Last week, I represented the Information School at the annual CILIP conference in Manchester. This was a huge deal for two reasons; it was my first major library conference and as a ‘southerner’, I got the chance to explore a bit more of the north. My first port of call on arrival was to man the Information School stall. This was an excellent opportunity to interact with distance learners and talk about my own experiences on the MA Librarianship course to potential students. I even got the chance to meet someone from the area that I’m moving to; networking has its advantages.

Carla Hayden, Librarian of Congress opened up the conference with an incredible speech on the importance and diversity of the librarian profession. She reminded all of us that ‘Librarians are the original search engines’ and I plan on buying a t-shirt with that phrase asap. The fact that such a superstar librarian applauded library students showed just what an inspiration she is.

Dr Konstantina Martzoukou, a senior lecturer at Robert Gordon University gave a passionate talk about the everyday life information literacy issues that Syrian new Scots face. Practically humming with energy, Dr Martzoukou brought her paper (“Lost in Information? Syrian new Scots Information Literacy Way-finding practices”) to life. The seminar highlighted the difficulty Syrian new Scots faced in finding health information, language barriers. However, it also showed just how much local support was in place to help Syrian new Scots settle within the community. The local public libraries played a huge part in connecting people together, yet these issues need to a increase in awareness beyond the library profession. A video clip at the end of the seminar, showing the devastation in Syria, had me in tears.

This seminar hit me on a much more personal level than just listening to an interesting topic. Through the Information School, I have volunteered with a Sheffield based charity since March. Every Tuesday, I have helped refugees practice their reading and writing skills, a project that has brought me a lot of happiness and the opportunity to work with wonderful people. It’s thanks to the Information School that I’ve had this opportunity and it was heart warming to see other library schools furthering their research in this area.

In an action packed two days, I saw just how the library profession interacts on a global scale. As a soon-to-be new professional, it was incredible to see how much the librarian field impacts on society. I arrived back home brimming with ideas, excited to enter the profession and desperately in need of a lie down on my bed. The only negative thing I can say is that I drank so much tea at the conference; I couldn’t face having my normal morning cuppa the next day.

Lucy Sinclair
MA Librarianship student

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